On September 18, 2013, I moved to Spain for the first time. On my flight to Madrid, I was a blubbering baby hoping that my semi-silent crying would go unnoticed. As I sulked in my window seat, a slightly nosy but good-intentioned Spanish grandma tried to comfort me. I was excited and nervous. Happy and sad. I felt basically every human emotion that exists.
This year things were different. As I said goodbye to my family, went through security and hopped on my plane to Spain, my eyes stayed dry. Maybe that sounds harsh, but you have to understand what I was feeling that day: nothing. This time around I embarked on my expat journey feeling almost nothing other than neutral. Not happy or sad. Not excited or nervous. Just neutral.
Chomping away on my airplane dinner, I started to think, “Why don’t I feel something? I should feel something. ANYTHING!” That’s when I realized that I did feel something. It wasn’t quite an emotion, but more like a new attitude. A newfound determination was brewing in me, and it came from the clearer sense of purpose I now have for my life and career. Now, that does not mean that the quarter-life crisis I wrote about a few months back is over. Believe me. It is alive and well. I can still say, however, that I at least know what the next two or three steps are for me, and one of those was to go back to Spain. Of that I was sure.
In the weeks leading up to my departure, I felt something other than neutral, and as a matter of fact I felt it too much. My head and heart were consumed with feelings of stress and fear so much so that I literally had chest pains and at my yearly checkup, the doctor said my blood tests showed high levels of cortisol aka an indicator of stress. In that moment, it really hit me that I needed to relax, take a step back and remember why going to Spain was such a good opportunity for me.
Living in Spain allows me to explore a country that I have always loved. I am improving my Spanish skills and truly immersing myself in the culture here. Working as an English teacher’s assistant is helping me to learn and grow as an ESL teacher. The list of reasons can go on forever, but above all, living and working in Spain puts an entire continent at my doorstep. I can travel more, write more and work on what I hope will one day turn into a fruitful career as a travel writer.
With those thoughts in mind, my determination to take big steps this year in my life and career was born. I’m in mission mode people, and there’s no stopping me now! Of course, I’m only human so those feelings of stress and fear still rear their ugly heads in my direction every once in a while. I can admit that they’ve already crept up on me big time when what I thought would be a two to three day hunt for an apartment in Seville turned into a week and a half before I finally found a place to live.
So far I am settling in just fine here in Seville. At my new job, I am getting along well with my coworkers and the students. The students think I don’t speak Spanish so that just leads to loads of entertainment as they use all forms of Spanglish and hand gestures to communicate with me. That new home that took me so long to find turned out to be a great one. I am actually living with a Spanish family and will be teaching English to their two teenage children. In the short time that I’ve lived with this family, they have really made me feel welcomed in their home, and I am so grateful for that.
Now, all that’s left to do is find my niche in this place. To put myself out there and join clubs or classes so I can meet people and make friends here. I’ve already heard about a cupcake baking class that has my name written all over it. That means I shall be writing my name all over a gym membership contract too.
The more I get settled in and the calmer things start to get in my life, the more I start to feel other emotions. My mission mode mindset hasn’t turned me into a robot. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss random little things like having a bagel shop around the corner and being able to buy fresh sushi at the supermarket (or at least I think it’s fresh). I miss the good ol’ US of A, but I am incredibly happy to be in Seville. Just look at it! This place is beautiful!
Last year wasn’t easy for me at times. Besides living in a small town that was quite frankly just boring sometimes, I didn’t enjoy my experience to the fullest because I was too busy worrying about people and things that were out of my control. It was counterproductive, and it didn’t make sense. I developed two mottos last year to keep my inner worry wart at bay: “Manage your expectations” and “Deal with the present. Deal with the facts.” Those mottos got me through some tough times, but my new year in Spain along with my new attitude deserve something better. As my best friend put it, “You need a new motto for this year and one that’s not so depressing.” My BFF knows how to keep it real, and I couldn’t agree with her more. I still may need to remind myself of the lessons I learned last year, but I am turning over a new leaf.
My BFF suggested my new motto for this year be, “Get sh*t done,” and while I totally agree with the sentiment, I’m going to add a little southern twang to it. This year is my year to “Get ‘er done.” Plain and simple. I am determined to do some serious work and to make some big strides towards the future that I want. What exactly that future looks like may not be 100% clear, but that’s okay. Little by little I’m sure my doubts will clear themselves up.
With a lot of hard work and determination along with a little bit of luck, I know this will all pay off. Year two in Spain is the year to get ‘er done and nothing will stop me! I should hashtag that… #geterdone. Yep. Now it’s official.
Wish me luck, my friends!